Charlie Hebdo – You are not allowed to say that.

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Eternal rest give unto them oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of those killed at Charlie Hebdo.

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They died for free speech. Their offensive and provocative cartoons poked fun at everyone and everything. I have been disgusted by their artwork in the past. I am still disgusted, But today I recognised the importance of what they do.

Last year I was forced to close my wedding cake business down because of the same-sex marriage law. If I was to have said to a gay couple that I would not be able to make their wedding cake because my religious beliefs, I could have been prosecuted for hate speech.

Adoption agencies throughout the UK are now not allowed to say that children have the right to both a mother and a father.

Last month Bernadette Smyth received 100 hours of community service, a £2000 fine and a 5 year restraining order because she stood outside the Northern Ireland Marie Stopes abortion clinic protesting that life is precious.

A few weeks ago Johnathan Scott, a 19 year old Canadian was suspended from his part time job after his immediate supervisor told him he wasn’t allowed to do this, saying he should instead say “Happy Holidays.”

Yesterday 2 young men burst into an office in Paris and shot 12 people because 4 cartoonists drew a picture they didn’t like…

Deacon Nick Donnely said today that “The Charlie Hebdo massacre represents the violent collision between extreme secularism with extreme Islam.” I would agree with him on that, and also remind myself that my Lord is challenging me to love all my enemies – what ever form they take. While I can not stand alongside Charlie Hebdo in complete solidarity because of its offensive images of Christ – I believe the freedom to satirically criticise ANYTHING is a freedom this country no longer enjoys. I wonder if we did have that freedom to openly criticise – would cases like Rotherham have gone on for so long? I would tolerate criticism of my faith if I was allowed to openly criticise gay marriage. But I’m not. In France it seems they have freedom of speech much more than in the UK. Here we have political correctness.

I wonder if now, because of Charlie Hebdo I will be able to express my views without fear of prosecution? I never thought I would be appreciating the ‘right to offend’ but it seems today I am.

Je suis Charlie, and I would like to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, marriage can only occur between 1 man and 1 woman, and that abortion is murder. Or am I not allowed to say that?

Why Equal marriage law will destroy my Wedding Cake Business (and Free Speech!).

For those of you who know me well, you will know that I have had my own small business working from home for the past 9 years. I make Wedding and Party cakes. I trained hard for 2 years to gain the skills and qualifications to go into this industry and even converted my home to be able to run a business from there. It has been wonderful as I have been able to work on and off these past 9 years around having children. Thankfully at the moment I am currently not working as we are expecting our third child, but I’m afraid that with recent political developments regarding same-sex marriage I will be unable to carry on with the business in the future.

The problem lies here – I am a Catholic. I believe that marriage can only exist between a woman and a man. I believe that children have the right to a mother and a father. I believe that taking part in homosexual acts is sinful – (it causes one to turn away from God and so harms the persons involved) and therefor it is something that can not be celebrated. I certainly could not profit financially from making a wedding cake for a gay couple.

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When Civil Partnerships became legal in 2004 I had to make the choice of what to do if I was asked to make a cake for a gay couple. I decided at the time that the best way to handle it was to apologise saying that I was already booked up on that date. This of course was a lie and I felt very uncomfortable doing it. The other alternative would have been to try to explain that I was unable to make their cake because I disagreed with gay weddings for religious reasons. As my website had my address and all other contact details I decided that this could put me and my family in a position of danger.

I carried on in this way on and off for the next 9 years (in between having my children) and it seemed to work fairly well except for the awful guilty feeling I had because I was being forced to lie about being too busy to make their cakes.

So why not carry on the same way after my third child is born?

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I feel the political atmosphere in the UK has changed dramatically over the past 12 months since David Cameron announced out of the blue that he wanted to re-define marriage. It has become nasty – militant even. You now hear slogans such as “Fair is more important than Faith” and “Equality overrides free speech” and the word “Bigot” is being thrown around like it was going out of fashion.

David Burrows MP told the Daily Telegraph last week that “In the last few days we have heard of a street preacher in Cambridge: Whilst he was speaking to the public about marriage a member of the crowd called the  police because, “Anyone who believes in man/woman only marriage should be sent to jail. Equality overrides free speech and your views are homophobic, intolerant and very very offensive. Nobody should be allowed to believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman in the 21st Century, we’re calling the police and we’re calling them now.” The street preacher was filmed on  mobile phones, as the small crowd declared they had all of the ‘evidence to put him in jail.’

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and the police retreated and went away. However it was a close call, and this even before the law has been changed. The problem is that the Same-sex marriage Bill risks fermenting such attacks on freedom of speech. The Bill creates a state orthodoxy which gives succour to the intolerant baying crowd or the politically correct council in discriminating against supporters of traditional marriage.”

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If we take a look at Canada who re-defined marriage in 2005 we can see that approx. 300 Christians have now been prosecuted because of their beliefs in traditional marriage. In March of this year Canada’s supreme court ruled that even claiming that homosexual behaviour is immoral is now classified as ‘Hate Speech’. The court also explained that truth was no defence since “Truthful statements can be presented in a manner that would meet the definition of hate speech, and not all truthful statements must be free from restriction.” http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/03/06/canadian-supreme-court-ruling-has-implications-for-christian-witness/

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I now regularly receive abusive comments on my blog and via Facebook, the most recent being a few moments ago from an atheist gentleman (I use that term sparingly) who likes to troll the Christian Concern Facebook page:

 https://www.facebook.com/events/464089323672839/464980736917031/?notif_t=event_mall_reply

Regarding the same-sex marriage bill he tells me: “Ah Clare, I have to call stupid when I see it, nothing is going to change except that a few bigots are going to find it hard to survive in the real world without having to rightly hold their tongue  whilst doing their jobs. I will Gloat and laugh, you come from one of the most intolerant groups this land has to offer and every time you try and hold on to a bit of your self proclaimed superiority the country tells you to stuff it. Your only complaint is that you are going to be prevented from discriminating as much as you used to, Marriage belongs to all the people of the country,  Suck it up and try not to be to paranoid, its a long life to spend being as bitter as you and many of your fellow travellers sound. You lost AGAIN”.

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What really gets me about all of this is that these people are shouting under the banners of equality, freedom and fairness. Do they seriously think it is fair that in the UK in 2013 I feel so threatened by possible prosecution, persecution and even violence towards me and my family because the law is about to discriminate against us because we are Catholic (we could be Protestant, Muslim, Sikh, Orthodox Jews or just plain non-religious defenders of traditional marriage) that I feel unable to carry on with my Wedding Cake business?

I am being asked, sorry – TOLD to put my beliefs to one side because they are no longer welcome in this country. I put it to them that THAT is not fair, or equal, or acceptable. In a progressive, tolerant society I would not have to hide my beliefs for fear of prosecution or persecution. People who believe in equality must accept that not everyone is going to hold the same views as them. I am happy to live peacefully alongside people who hold different beliefs to me – why can the liberal community not do the same?

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
He will make your vindication shine like the light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday.
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
– Psalm 37.